WhatsApp update: What are the new privacy features that have been added to app?

·2 min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

WhatsApp has introduced a number of new privacy features, intended to make it easier to control what you share.

There are three main tools – two of which are arriving now, and another that is still in testing but will arrive soon.

All of the features are aimed at much the same thing: giving better ways of deciding who can see what you are doing.

Here are the three new changes.

Disappearing messages really disappear

WhatsApp has offered the option to set messages to “view once” for a while. The tool is intended to make it harder for people to store pictures when they are sent, and to make them more ephemeral.

But until now there has been a way to make those messages last longer: screenshooting them, so that they are stored on a device forever.

Now, WhatsApp will block that, by stopping phones from being able to take a screenshot of those messages.

It will still be possible to save them, by taking a picture of the screen, for instance. But it will become much harder.

This is the one feature that is yet to be released and which WhatsApp says is still in testing.

Decide who can see you are online

WhatsApp allows people to see when you are online, broadcasting when you have the app open. It is presumably intended to make people feel more engaged, but can be prying.

It was already possible to switch that setting on and off, so that nobody could see you were online. That also worked the other way – if you turned off your own online status, then you couldn’t see anyone else’s either.

But until now it has been all or nothing. Now, WhatsApp will allow people to choose who can see your online status, and who can’t.

Silently leaving groups

There has never been any way to quietly exit groups: you had to do it dramatically, with a message that indicated you had left to everyone still in the group. It could be useful during an argument but drastic if you just wanted to slip out.

(Until now, the best option has been to mute the conversation and then archive it, which has much the same effect as leaving but doesn’t put up the notification.)

Now WhatsApp wil let you leave quietly, without that notification. Admins will be alerted that you’ve left the chat, but nobody else will.

A little longer to delete messages

As a bonus, WhatsApp also announced that users will have a longer time to delete messages. That wasn’t part of the main new set of features, but came at roughly the same time.

Previously, the limit was 1 hour, 8 minutes, and 16 seconds. (It was seven minutes, when it was first introduced in 2017.)

Now it’s two and a half days – or 60 hours.